The next day, already 500 meters above sea level and having lost about 2 liters of sweat, we slowly started realising this wasn’t going to be a piece of cake. The cycleable road only leads up to 1100 meters and sadly, this is where we stabled our steel steeds. Because the sun went to hide behind the mountain peaks, we thought it might be a good idea to call it a day. The only three problems: no food, no shops, low cash. If only we had those pepperoni’s from way back when. Damn. Oh well, that’s the way she goes. As icing on the shitcake, Zeus gave us a slap on the wrists by calling forth the thunder, as he didn’t appreciate us camping in his front yard with such nonchalance and thus showed us the climb would not be a cakewalk. We tried waiting for the rain to pass, but as it got colder we decided it was time to put up shelter. And so the duel began. With the king of Gods throwing wind and rain at us, we struggled putting up the tent, as the only flat ground on this height was a concrete floor in front of a small hut. Four of us were holding the tent while the other two tried to fix the stormlines to big rocks, trees and other anchor points available. Then, when we were almost finished, the greek God stepped up his game and blew everything away. We didn’t give up and realized that at the back of the hut we’d be more covered from the fierce wind. Under Karo’s guidance we started over and with full dedication we tried to anchor the tent neatly once more. Finally, when the tipi tent was ready to enter, the wind and rain dissappeared and we understood that Zeus appreciated our perseverence and must have deemed us worthy to place foot on his doorstep.
After the storm had settled, the six of us got cosy in a swampy four person tent. Karo’s angel voice concluded this chaotic night singing us to sleep with German lullabies. The next morning we gathered whatever food we had left and started marching up the winding rocky hikingtrail. There were predictions of bad weather for our climbing day, but because nature’s forces granted us a sunlit morning, we soon peeled off layer after layer of clothing. Before departure we learned that Mt. Olympus national park contains 30% of Greece’s fauna and flora species. Hence we enjoyed the abundance of greenery as the clouds gathered in the mountain gorge beneath us. We soldiered at a steady pace through these lush surroundings and after a short break we heard bells ahead of us. We soon caught up with a caravan of donkeys, on their way to resupply the 2100m high refugee camp. Following the rythm of the donkeyhooves, we reached this pitstop thirty minutes under the average time. We all scraped together our last nickles and dimes and ordered 6 steaming plates of pasta, which provided the troupe with the necessary carbs as we slid into the mandatory slippers and pulled up a chair by the hearth.
We were told it was a good three hours to the top and back if your legs are not tired. We quickly responded with an overconfident “our legs are fine” and hurried up and down the summit in two hours, hoping in vain to leave just enough time to reach our bycicles before dark. From the top of the Godly mountain we had a clear sight over the Aegean sea, and our endorfine filled bodies got treated to a bar of chocolate, some dried figs and a moment of euforia before we started skipping down the rocks again.
Our legs started feeling more like blocks of concrete, but we used this to our advantage as it was all downhill from there. Each maintaining our own pace, we got a bit seperated by the dark, and our echos howled at eachother to count the heads every now and then.
Our batteries running low, we packed up and cycled down in the direction of Litochoro. Shukri suggested: “Let’s stay together on the long way down, don’t go too fast so we can avoid getting seperated again”. Snaking down the 17 351 m long mountainroad, we were treated to a beautiful nightview of Litochoro, with the lights of Thessaloniki clearly visible across the sea behind it. This was hands down the most beautiful downhill view so far, and we can strongly recommend this nocturnal descent to every cycler choosing to brave this mountain from sea to summit and back. We celebrated our victory with a pizza party which we washed down with a golden brown Belgian ale.